The holiday season is customarily full of a plethora of new movies of the family-friendly variety. This year is no exception, but there is an unusual surge of adult-oriented films hitting theaters this week. One of those is “The Darkest Hour,” an alien invasion/end of the world film typically seen with a summer or early fall release date. Are the movie studios onto something? Do the adults feel deprived and in need of something less happy and fuzzy during a stressful time of year? Read on and find out.
In “The Darkest Hour,” best friends and business partners Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) travel to Moscow for the most important meeting of their lives. They are bringing a new phone app that helps to locate the best bars and hot spots all over the world to a large corporation in the hopes of being sponsored and funded. When those dreams are quickly dashed by a competitor named Skyler (Joel Kinnaman), they head to a local club to drown their sorrows. That’s when they meet two beautiful Americans — Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor) — and they instantly hit it off.
When a blackout forces the club to evacuate, they see strange occurrences in the clouds and then glowing orbs of light descending from the sky. When one lands near the crowd, it doesn’t take long for them to figure out something’s wrong. When the cop who goes to investigate it is shredded and turned into ash, the panic begins as they realize that whatever these things are mean us harm, and worst of all, once they land we cannot see them.
Sean, Ben, Natalie, Anne and Skyler barricade themselves in a storage basement below the nightclub and wait for days as they hear the terror happening above them. When they run out of food, they decide to head back out into the city where they find it to be a ghost town without anyone in sight. All electronic devices ceased to function as soon as the orbs descend upon the city, so there is no way to find out whether anyone else is still alive or how widespread the attack was.
Making their way across the city, they must come up with a plan of action on how to survive the invisible assailants and how to leave Moscow and get home — if there is a home to still get back to. Can they possible fight something they can’t see and how many people are still left in the world? These are questions they must answer on their journey through this foreign and deserted city.
“The Darkest Hour” is directed by Chris Gorak. The only other film Gorak directed was a post-apocalyptic film called “Right at your Door,” which was very original but not the best film. I decided to give him a chance to impress me. The trailer made the film seem like it had some decent action and good special effects, so I was thinking it could be a fun movie to watch.
The script, although pretty typical, followed almost every twist and turn that you could see coming except a few. There were multiple times I just assumed something was going to happen like normal and then the movie went in a different direction — which surprised me, so that was a good thing. The actors in the film did great with what they were given, had good chemistry with each other and seemed genuinely terrified in the film as they ran for their lives. I’m a fan of Emile Hirsch’s work and also loved Olivia Thirlby in “Juno,” and although the main cast stays pretty small for most of the film, I didn’t get bored with watching them.
The effects are state of the art and the design of the creatures was unique. I liked the idea that they give off electricity and so you can use that as a warning device to know when they are coming. Overall, “The Darkest Hour” was pretty decent for this type of film and although I was entertained, it is overall a pretty typical alien invasion film.
So this movie is an easy action film to watch, you can go and enjoy yourself and not have to think that hard, but for those wanting a little more substance and plot to their films, you might want to look elsewhere.
“The Darkest Hour” — rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some language — is in theaters now. It also stars Veronika Ozerova, Dato Bakhtadze and Yuriy Kutsenko.
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